Rating: 5 / 5
I just received my Houdini. Here are my initial impressions.
Fabric/Air Permeability: Good air permeability; I was able to breathe slowly through the fabric. This is sufficient to assist with water vapor transport, so the vapor does not have to condense, travel through a solid layer, then evaporate on the other side. The fabric is 1.1 ripstop nylon with a DWR coating.
Weight: Advertised 105g, actual 101g.
Water resistance: TBD. Being a wind shell, I only demand a little resistance to rain to be acceptable. Edit; it wets through after about 5 minues rain; adequate, I think, for a windshirt.. enough time to get your shell out, and put it on.
Hood drawstring mechanism: This uses an interesting design. When the string is pulled, it slides through a foam disk which is captured in the rim of the hood. In this manner, the string will not pull back out under normal tension, allowing single handed tightening. Other windshells, such as the Marmot Ion, for example, put the foam disk outside the hood brim, requiring two hands, or dextereous fingers, to accomplish the tightening.
Hood adjustment strings:
Patagonia designed the pull strings inside the edge of the collar, so when the jacket is zipped up, the strings will not flail about in the wind, whipping you in the eye. The M. Ion, as a counter-example, has the strings on the outside.
Chest pocket: Present; Important for self-stowing the jacket. I am not sure why Patagonia placed this inside the zipper seam; placing it outside, and replacing the velcro fastener with a zipper would allow it to be used for other purposes more easily and securely.
Hem/cut: 'Normal' fit, IMO. For example, I am a medium in most manufacturers products, and this M fits me perfectly. I like the long drop tail for wind and rain protection.
Hood: sufficiently large for over/under helmet use.
Summary; Patagonia gets a bad rap for designing.. well, designer clothing, but this jacket seems to be well thought out for use by climbers and backpackers. They avoided obvious mistakes like putting drawstrings on the outside, and did use appropriate fabric for the construction.
I expect this jacket will replace my Montbell Windblaster and my Marmot Ion.
I give it a 5 as of now; and will add results of water resistance later.
Edit. I have worn this jacket from -5C to 25C, in sun and rain. This is the first time I have really experienced the concept a breathable rain-resistant windshirts. Amazingly, I hiked at-5C in falling snow, with only a wool 1 crew and the Houdini on top. I was comfortably cool, and more importantly, always dry. I basically leave it zipped up, and it still vents the moisture through the fabric. (a silicon encapsulated nylon similar to epic)
Another day I loaned it to a friend on a hike alternating between cold windy shade, and sunny warm exposure; the Houdini blocked the wind, added a few degrees of trapped warmth, and vented all generated moisture. All without adding/removing layers. She was sold on the 'windshirt' concept, and so am I. It has replaced my 2005 Marmot Ion and my Montbell windblaster. Even if I am carrying my DIAD, I will carry my 100 gram Houdini as my most versitile piece of clothing.